Bellator boss Scott Coker criticizes UFC’s treatment of Cris Cyborg

Bellator President Scott Coker isn’t impressed with the way the UFC handled the career of Cris Cyborg.

Cyborg, the former Strikeforce, Invicta and UFC featherweight champion, joined Bellator MMA earlier this month. Prior to her move to Bellator, Cris Cyborg competed in the UFC, and got off to a good start with stoppage wins over Leslie Smith, Lina Lansberg and Tonya Evinger, the latter of whom she defeated to win the vacant featherweight title.

She then successfully defended her belt against Yana Kunitskaya and Holly Holm. Her win-streak came to an end when Amanda Nunes defeated her at UFC 232. Fans were shocked when Nunes handed Cyborg a first-round KO loss — Cyborg’s first defeat in over a decade.

Since then, Cyborg fought Felicia Spencer in July and won by unanimous decision, but her relationship with the UFC by that point was significantly strained. UFC President Dana White disputed Cyborg’s claims that she was willing to rematch Amanda Nunes, and put her on blast on many occasions.

The UFC boss previously went as far as to say Cyborg looked like “Wanderlei Silva in a dress.” There were also criticisms that her relative inactivity was because the UFC wasn’t committed to building the featherweight division and were focusing their efforts elsewhere.

Coker believes the UFC’s actions in this case were negligible and he’s committed to treated Cyborg better.

“It’s our job to keep her active, which I think we’ll be very successful,” Coker said (via MMA Fighting).

“I think really she hasn’t been active because I don’t think the UFC has ever been [committed] to the 145-pound weight class division, that’s not their business. They’re in the business of the lighter weights but I don’t think they ever made the commitment to blow up the 145-pound weight class.”

There has recently been a small crop of fighters who joined the UFC to fight in the featherweight division, including Cyborg’s former opponent Felicia Spencer. However, Cyborg’s title defences have been against fighters who compete primarily at 135 pounds.

“She will have girls in her weight class to fight, whereas in the UFC, I think it was like, let’s see who we can sign to fight her for a one-off, or make people move up to fight her from a different weight class,” Coker said.

How do you think Cris Cyborg will do in Bellator?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/17/2019. 

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Bellator Europe 5: Ashley Reece steps in to face Stefano Paterno in Milan

It’s one British fighter out, one in as Stefano Paterno gets a new opponent for his hometown promotional debut at Bellator Europe 5 in Milan.

Former Cage Warriors welterweight champion Paterno (12-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) was due to take on Galore Bofando at the Allianz Cloud on October 12, but Bellator officials confirmed to MMA Junkie that the London Shootfighters welterweight has withdrawn from the card, with fellow countryman Ashley Reece signing on the dotted line to replace him.

Known as “The Beast”, Reece (8-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) has appeared twice under the Bellator Europe banner, having picked up back-to-back victories at Bellator Europe 1 in Newcastle and Bellator Europe 2 in Birmingham. Now the former Full Contact Contender veteran is set to make the third appearance of his Bellator career as he steps in to face Paterno on less than a month’s notice.

Bellator officials also confirmed they are working behind the scenes to fill another vacant slot on the card, with Italian welterweight Giorgio Pietrini ruled out of his fight with Sweden’s Oliver Enkamp on the Bellator 230 portion of the card in Milan.

Enkamp (8-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) impressed last time out at Bellator 223 in London in June when he finished Walter Gahadza via first-round rear-naked choke to make a winning start to life as a Bellator fighter. The 28-year-old Stockholm native now faces a wait to discover the identity of his new opponent for the October 12 show.

Unbeaten 6-foot-8 heavyweight Steve Mowry returns at Bellator 231

Towering heavyweight Steve Mowry will attempt to continue the undefeated start to his career when he makes his third Bellator appearances in November.

Mowry (6-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) is set to meet Gokhan Saricam (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 231, which takes place Oct. 25 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The fight is part of the prelims, which stream on MMA Junkie prior to the main card on Paramount and DAZN.

MMA Junkie confirmed the matchup with a Bellator official.

Mowry, who stands 6-foot-8, has mad easy work of his opponents thus far in his Bellator career. He’s earned back-to-back first-round submission wins for the promotion, with the most recent coming at Bellator 215 in February.

Looking to halt Mowry’s run will be Bellator newcomer Saricam, who will fight professional for just the fifth time since making his MMA debut in May 2014. Similar to Mowry, the Turkish fighter has earned all of his career wins by stoppage.

The latest Bellator 231 lineup now includes:

Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson
Jason Jackson vs. Ed Ruth
Steve Mowry vs. Gokhan Saricam

Lyoto Machida: Gegard Mousasi will have ‘no excuses’ after second loss to me at Bellator 228

Gegard Mousasi has said a lot about Lyoto Machida since their first fight more than five years ago. If he loses again, though, not much more can be said.

At least that’s what Machida (26-8 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) believes. “The Dragon” has been targeted with greasing and performance-enhancing drug accusations from Mousasi (45-7 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) stemming from their February 2014 bout under the UFC banner, which Machida won by unanimous decision.

The rematch will finally take place at Bellator 228 this month, and Machida said going 2-0 in career fights against Mousasi should put everything to rest.

“Nothing that he says affects myself,” Mousasi told MMA Junkie. “We are going to fight again and it’s going to be a rematch and if I beat him for the second time he has no excuses. No excuses. I just want to be very focused on what I have to do. For this fight I know I’m 100 percent focused and I just want to do my job.”

Bellator 228 takes place Sept. 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Machida vs. Mousasi 2 co-headlines the main card, which streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.

The idea of a Machida vs. Mousasi rematch has been on the table since both signed with Bellator. It was thought that it would eventually come together for a title, but Mousasi dropped the 185-pound belt to Rafael Lovato Jr. earlier this year to extinguish that possibility.

Machida thought he would be challenging Lovato Jr. after his TKO win over Chael Sonnen at Bellator 222 in June, but the champion was unavailable, and that’s when Bellator president Scott Coker called offering the rematch.

“I was thinking Lovato should be my next opponent, but I heard he was a little bit injured so he could not fight in September,” Machida said. “I like to get the rhythm of fighting, I don’t like to sit still waiting for my next fight. So that’s why as soon as Scott Coker offered me to fight Mousasi, I accepted right away.”

Machida largely handled Mousasi in their first encounter. He won 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 on the scorecards, and the Brazilian said he remembers have commands over the fight at all times.

“I remember that the fight was tough,” Machida said. “We fought five rounds, we had some moments where we scrambled in that fight. I remember that I controlled the fight from the beginning to the end of the fight. I could hit him a couple times and I still believe I have the tools to beat Mousasi. Even though he’s a very tough opponent and a well rounded fighter, I believe in myself.”

Although a lot of time has passed since then and Machida is now 41 with more tread on his tires, he said he thinks he can upstage his previous performance. The goal is to fight for a Bellator title after Bellator 228, and he said the perfect set-up for that would be to make a statement against Mousasi.

“I believe I can knock him out and I can also control the fight at all times,” Machida said. “I still consider myself a very explosive fighter, so if I want to explode, I can. Mousasi is not an explosive fighter. He has the rhythm to fight little by little and increase over the fight. I won’t let him increase in the fight.”

Patrick Mix returns against Dominic Mazzotta at Bellator 232 in Connecticut

Patrick Mix hasn’t faced defeat in his professional or amateur MMA career.

The 26-year-old bantamweight Mix (11-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will look to preserve his undefeated record on the main card of Bellator 232, when he takes on Dominic Mazzotta (15-3 MMA, 2-2 BMMA).

A promotion official informed MMA Junkie of the booking on Monday.

Bellator 232, which takes place Sat., Oct. 26, is the second leg of a doubleheader at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

In his Bellator debut, Mix made quick work of former CFFC champion Ricky Bandejas. On the Bellator 222 preliminary card at Madison Square Garden in June, Mix submitted Bandejas with a rear-naked choke in just 66 seconds.

Eight of Mix’s 11 pro victories have come by way of finish with seven submissions and one knockout.

Pennsylvania’s Mazzotta will look to return to his winning ways after a brief venture away from the promotion. After he lost his most recent Bellator fight to Shawn Bunch in March, Mazzotta took a fight outside the promotion which he won by unanimous decision.

Bellator 232 is headlined by the Bellator welterweight grand prix finals between Rory MacDonald (21-5-1 MMA, 3-1-1 BMMA) and Douglas Lima (31-7 MMA, 13-3 BMMA).

The up-to-date Bellator 232 lineup is as follows:

  • Rory MacDonald vs. Douglas Lima
  • Paul Daley vs. Sabah Homasi
  • Patrick Mix vs. Dominic Mazzotta
  • Devin Powell vs. Marcus Surin
  • Zarrukh Adashaev vs. Tevin Dyce
  • Robin Van Roosmalen vs. Cris Lencioni

Cheick Kongo opens up on controversial Ryan Bader fight

Cheick Kongo was fighting for the heavyweight title against Ryan Bader in the main event of Bellator 226. It was a chance for the 44-year-old Frenchman to win a major MMA title, something that has eluded him thus far in his career. Unfortunately for Kongo and his team, things didn’t go as planned.

Instead, the fight was ruled a no-contest after an accidental eye poke from Bader. The champion has since gone on social media posting videos saying there was no eye poke. Kongo, however, says he was poked in the eye, and the nose.

“Things happen, I got poked in the eye. You can see it clearly when he threw the uppercut, the uppercut didn’t connect. If you see the full video, the uppercut, it kept going up on the side of my head and hit my eye,” Cheick Kongo explained to in his first interview since Bellator 226. “First of all, it should make me head bounce if it connected. Second, when he tried to hit me with the uppercut and missed, his thumb poked me in the eye.

“At first, I thought I could take it, but after he took the thumb out of my eye, he had his hand around there and then poked me up the nose. The rule is clear if you poke the nose, the eye, you can get disqualified. At the end, when people are talking s**t, if I have to win it will be fairly, if I win on DQ it is bad. I also never got the chance to explain myself. Bader talked, but I didn’t, it seemed like I was put in the trash. For what? Because he poked me in the eye, like f**k…”

After Bellator 226, Ryan Bader has claimed that Kongo faked the eye poke to get out of the fight. However, the Frenchman denies that heavily and points to him fighting for a living and doing this for years now.

“He got me first with the eye poke, then he get me up the nose. People saying I’m scared? I fight for a living. If I get beat up, I get beat up. I’ve lost fights before. I wasn’t faking anything, he poked me pretty bad. End of the story,” he said. “Are they going to run the fight back, I wish so. In that situation, I never faked anything. I didn’t want to win like that, so it is good it is a no-contest.”

For now, Cheick Kongo is hoping he and Ryan Bader can run it back soon. He knows he can win that fight, and it is a fight he still wants. Whether or not he actually gets a rematch is another question.

“Of course I want it. They kept me away, for four years from the title. The title was vacant for four years and that is insane. It was f**king horrible. It is a big shame. Have you ever seen a title in the UFC vacant for four years?”

If Bellator does want to do a rematch, Kongo would like it to happen fairly soon.

“Hopefully as soon as possible. The soonest would be possible once everything is healed,” Kongo said. 

But, as Cheick Kongo says, he needs to heal before this rematch can happen. He says his eye is still hurting from the poke over a week later.

“It is still hurting. I’ve been taking drops so hopefully, it is healed by next week,” Kongo concluded. 

Do you think Bellator should book Ryan Bader vs. Cheick Kongo 2 after the controversial ending in their first fight?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/16/2019.

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Robin Van Roosmalen to make promotional debut against Cris Lencioni at Bellator 232

Robin van Roosmalen is closing in on his Bellator debut.

The former Glory featherweight and lightweight champion Van Roosmalen (2-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) will face Gracie Barra Portland’s Cris Lencioni (5-2 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) at Bellator 232.

The bout was confirmed by Dutch outlet Babrants Dagblad. Both fighters/their teams also confirmed the bout via social media.

Bellator 232, which takes place Saturday, Oct. 26 is the second leg of a doubleheader at the Mohegan Sun. The card is headlined by the Bellator welterweight grand prix finals between Rory MacDonald (21-5-1 MMA, 3-1-1 BMMA) and Douglas Lima (31-7 MMA, 13-3 BMMA).

The Netherlands’ Van Roosmalen has competed twice before in MMA, but not since 2017. The contests took place in Greece, both of which were knockout victories for Van Roosmalen.

In May, Bellator president Scott Coker announced Van Roosmalen’s signing with the promotion in a tweet.

Lencioni, 25, rebounded from back-to-back losses at Bellator 221 when he defeated rising prospect Adil Benjilany by first-round triangle choke. Both of Lencioni’s Bellator victories have come by submission. His two losses have come by decision.

The up-to-date Bellator 232 lineup is as follows:

  • Rory MacDonald vs. Douglas Lima
  • Paul Daley vs. Sabah Homasi
  • Devin Powell vs. Marcus Surin
  • Zarrukh Adashaev vs. Tevin Dyce
  • Robin Van Roosmalen vs. Cris Lencioni